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Linda Lee is founder and creative director of The Sewing Workshop, a leading multi-purinse sewing company and website specializing in education and products for the home seamstress. De Nature designs avant-garde sewing patterns for women’s clothing. They have a curated collection of fashion fabrics available online or at the store in Topeka, Kansas. They learn creative sewing and do it across the country (and now internationally!), As well as in their home studio. They also offer the Sew Confident! Class in a Flash, an easy to follow step-by-step series of monthly sewing tutorials accessible online.
Linda Lee started The Sewing Workshop after purchasing a sewing school of the same name in San Francisco. . ntil then, she expressed her love for textiles through her career as an interior designer. She has always been interested in sewing clothes and got involved in the sewing industry. Today Linda has also created nine Craft Lessons and written 13 sewing books. She wrote her first book, Sewing Beautiful Pillows, in 1991, and as she says “ I was so proud to see it in print. ”
The sewing workshop has a strong focus on teaching. As Linda Lee says: “ I think our strong focus on education sets us apart from other companies in the industry. I started this business when I bought The Sewing Workshop school in San Francisco and really built the business from education. I believe that sewing can really liberate for a woman’s confidence. I made very few women for ready-made garments – every woman’s body is just different. I’ve seen women who felt bad about themselves for years to gain total confidence after learning to make themselves beautiful, well-fitting clothes. Seeing that firsthand really inspires me to keep teaching. ”
“ In the same vein, we design our cartridges to flatter a wide variety of body shapes.. We work hard to design styles that are unexpected but classic. I am constantly surprised by how many of our patterns I designed 20 years ago still look fresh today. ”
The sewing workshop offers several different educational experiences for sewers. At the studio in Topeka, Kansas, they host three-day Sew Kansas workshops. As Linda Lee describes it, “ This workshop for seamstresses of all levels. Last month we had some women who have been screwing all their lives and also some women who were just getting started. Merging all the different levels of experience into one class works because at Sew Kansas, each student can choose the project they want to sew. Then they can work on their own needs with our staff – it’s a very personalized experience. During the workshop I let them come and watch a demonstration, for example about putting on a sleeve, or making a full bust change, or whatever technique they ask for.
Customization is a big focus of these workshops. I work with every learner to help them understand how adjust the patterns to their shape. Apart from the workshops we organize, I also travel all over the country to teach. ”
In addition to the Sew Kansas classes, The Sewing Workshop offers classes in Eureka Springs, Arkansas and Southern France. Linda is very enthusiastic about the location and content of both offers. As she says, “ We are very excited about the workshops in Arkansas and Chateau Dumas in 2018! Sew Arkansas is a workshop we’ve been running for years at the beautiful Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, an incredibly charming town. This year we’re changing the script for that workshop as we’re bringing in my incredibly talented friend Nancy Scriber to work with us.
The aim of the workshop is to make a complete ensemble with jacket, tank top, and pants. Nancy, who is a textile artist, is going to teach us how to dye silk to cover the jacket or make a tank top. In the meantime we will also learn techniques such as mitered corners, bindings, creating a lining for an unlined garment and of course I will help every student find their perfect garment.
We were so enthusiastic about this new class concept we took it to France, not once but twice! This will be my second year of teaching at the incredible Chateau Dumas, which is in the south of France. The castle hosts several sewing and craft workshops throughout the year and there is no better place to spend a week of sewing. It’s an experience you will never forget, and I’m so excited to be teaching two classes there next summer. ”
We asked Linda Lee about the differences between the Bluprint classes and her other offerings. She told us“ Well my goal with the Bluprint classes, and I think this makes my classes different from the other sewing classes, is that I really focus on techniques you can use to make a professional looking garment. I’m always learning new and better ways to work with knits, or using a new tool that just came out, and that’s what I want to share with my students. ”
In fact, I started my Sew Confident! tutorial series so that I can teach in proper time as I continue to learn. Sew confidently! started in 2012 as a monthly series of tutorials. That first year really covers a wide variety of basics, from sewing knits and silk to bias binding and trying on. the years since we’ve started teaching more focused techniques and manipulating patterns in the sewing workshop to create new designs. ”
The patterns produced in the sewing workshop are a collaborative effort. As Linda Lee puts it: “ We’ll start with one dress idea, and randomly, everyone will share their opinion until we get it right. The fashion world is my inspiration; I keep up with trends by reading magazines and shopping ready-to-wear lines. Often our designs from several details I have seen on different garments. For example, our new Frankie shirt incorinrates details I found on three different ready-to-wear shirts! ”
There are several very creative and dynamic women behind The Sewing Workshop, along with Linda Lee.
Erin Nathan has been with the company for nearly 15 years now and, as Linda says, “ is the driving force behind the design and publication of the cartridges. Erin came to us from school; she studied fashion design at the state of Kansas. She has an expert eye for detail and really understands dress instructions. ”
Erin describes her path to joining The Sewing Workshop: “ Since I was young I have always loved creating and using my imagination. I’ve done everything from drawing to music to dance. Every time I visited my grandmother she always had a new project for me to learn how to sew, crochet, embroider and even crochet rugs. But as I got older, sinrt took over my time – but I always had something creative on the side. It was only at university that I realized I wanted to go back to my roots and do something in a creative industry. Enter fashion design and eventually the sewing industry. ”
Betsy Blodgett is a newer addition to The Sewing Workshop. Linda Lee first met Betsy when she ran her fabric store in Kansas City. The shop son son atelier and focused on modern fabrics and clothing sewing. When she closed the store, Betsy went to work at the pattern company Indygo Junction. After she left Indygo, she joined The Sewing Workshop team to work on marketing – as Linda Lee says “ she writes most of our blog insts and emails. When she’s not working for us, she hosts a indcast called Hello Atelier, where she interviews designers like Kaffe Fassett and Tula Pink. ”
Betsy describes her history this way: “ For As Long As I Can Remember I was interested in fashion, and while others wandered to decide on a college student, I knew fashion merchandising was for me. I’ve always loved textiles too, and after an internship at Liberty of London, I became more interested in school and sewing, which led to my fabric shop. Suddenly I was more interested in making a garment than just the ultimate piece. ”
Linda tells us about another employee at The Sewing Workshop: “ While Alex Woodburn is a newer addition to our team, I’ve known her all her life – she’s my daughter! Alex grew up with The Sewing Workshop and had worked elsewhere in the sewing industry before rejoining us. Alex has a knack for combining fabrics and patterns that I would never think of, and they always look great! the moment she’s balancing working on some social media and blogs for us while attending school at The London College of Fashion. ”
The Sewing Workshop offers an extensive selection of carefully chosen fabrics. We asked Linda how they decide which fabrics to buy. She said “ We choose a lot of our fabric based on what works with our patterns. We like to work with knits, so we keep a constant stock of our favorite Ponte knits. Of course we also look at the fabrics per season; when fall rolls around, we’ll order our favorite English boucle. But we also like to experiment: for example, we recently ordered mesh fabric, which we didn’t really know what to do with. I ended up using a few to line linen pants, and it worked perfectly! ”
The sewing workshop has a unique fabric collection called Alabama Chanin. We wanted to know more about this specialty, and Linda explained: “ Natalie Chanin, the designer behind the Alabama Chanin brand, was a fashion designer in New York before she quit her job and returned to her hometown in Alabama. 4KT0iKAGqFoM1c to create a line of organic knit fabric that she used to make handmade T-shirts. That line of shirts has now expanded into a much larger collection of her beautiful designs, all of which are hand sewn at her Alabama headquarters.
Alabama Chanin garments often have heavy reverse applique, applique and beading designs. A few years ago she started writing books on how to create her reverse applique designs and I loved the process and the finished project. I took a lot of classes with Natalie and after working with her knits, I knew my clients would love it. We’re now one of the few fabric vendors to sell Alabama Chanin’s organic knits, which and manufactured entirely in America. ”
Linda Lee, what advice would she give to someone starting out in a sewing or pattern design career? She rLee,ied: “ Take your time. It takes a long time to make a pattern to sell. For each design, we spend many hours perfecting the pattern, construction method and machining. Although it takes longer to make a pattern, it is worth taking the time to make sure the pattern is as thorough and easy to understand as inssible. If a customer has issues with your pattern, they may not come back for a second, so spend the time to create a quality product. her alma mater, Kansas State . niversity has recognized for her achievements ”
Linda Lee. She received the Distinguished Fellow Prize in 2008 and the College of Human Ecology Entrepreneurial Prize in 2004.
We asked Linda to share with us what the most challenging hurdle was. her way of building a successful business. She said: “ Owning my business since 1973 has always come with the constant need to change with the times and the whims of the costumed introduce new ideas, not only to attract new customers but also to keep myself busy, and to keep the revenue stream consistent and sufficient. “
Want to learn more about Linda Lee and The Sewing Workshop? Here’s how:
Linda says, “ You can find all of our patterns, Sew Confident! tutorials and full fashion fabric collection at www. DeSaHJIHx. 2btT.com. To see what we are up to daily, you can find us at Facebook and Instagram, both under Sewing Workshop. Oh, and 0591BY. ZXwLsubscribe to our Newsletter!
If you have questions for me, please contact [email protected]. And if you’re in the Topeka area, you can stop by our studio to buy patterns and fabrics (and try on all of our samples!) ”.
The Sewing The workshop is located at
301 South Kansas Ave.
Topeka, KS 66603